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Trailwork, Monroe, Pierce: 



Mt Clinton Trailwork, Lakes of the Clouds Hut,
Mt Monroe, Mt Pierce, Mizpah Spring Hut
June 19-20, 2014

Route: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Mt Monroe Loop, Webster Cliff Trail, Mt Clinton Trail, Mizpah Cutoff
Elevation: Lakes of the Clouds Hut - 5012 ft
Mt Monroe - 5384 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 3120 - 3800 ft
Vertical Climb: 4549 ft
Distance: 12.5 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

Day 1

The last time I worked on my trail, in early May, it was way too snow covered for me to get much done. This time I was hoping to finally get through all of the major patch of blowdowns that were littering the path between the hut and the Dry River Cutoff. I also wanted to visit Lakes of the Clouds Hut, climb Mt Monroe, and hike the portion of the Crawford Path that parallels the Mt Monroe loop. I hadn't been to either Lakes of the Clouds or Mt Monroe since 2005 with Muffin, and I never been on that one section of the Crawford Path, which was supposed to be a mecca for mountain wildflowers. I suppose I overestimated my endurance for that day, but I hadn't counted on the high winds above treeline making travel so slow.

Anyway, I parked at the Highland Center and took the AMC shuttle to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trailhead. I'm always surprised at just how long the ride is on the base road between Rt 302 and the trailhead. The road (and its many bumps) seems to go on forever. My tools were already at Mizpah Springs Hut, so at least I wasn't carrying them, but I did have my sleeping bag and extra overnight gear.

The Ammonoosuc Ravine trail between the spur path to/from the Cog Railway base station and Gem Pool was a real surprise. I hadn't realized how badly the ravine had fared from Tropical Storm Irene. The river had massively overflowed its banks, scattering whole trees and debris like toothpicks along the higher ground. The trail itself was also much eroded, but the swath directly along the river was definitely the worst.

Gem Pool, however, was untouched and as green and inviting as ever. Tthe extremely steep section of the trail above Gem Pool was also in good shape, As always, I took the spur path to see the twin falls, which plummet over a hundred feet before disappearing into a series of hidden falls and cascades below. I was starting to get tired, but I didn't really feel rushed since it was still mid-morning and I had until 6 PM before supper was served at Mizpah.

Higher up, the pitch eased up a bit as the trail began its ascents along and across the open ledges and wide cascades of the upper part of the ravine. The ledges were a bit slippery, but not a real issue. The day was warm and sunny and the scenery was spectacular, especially when I got my first glimpse of the world above treeline. The steepness of the terrain hid all but the very top of the towers on the summit of Mt Washington, making the distance seem deceptively close.

Finally, after endless twists, turns, and their intervening ascents, Lakes of the Clouds Hut came into view. I was glad to see it since I was getting even more tired by this time and was ready for a good rest before continuing on. I was also relieved as I figured that I had just completed the hard uphill part, and that the rest of the way would be fairly easy going. The only real uphill hiking that I had left was the climb to Mt Monroe, and that wasn't really all that far. But as I said earlier, I hadn't counted on the high winds above treeline making travel so slow.

In the hut I bought a tee-shirt and enjoyed a snack while getting reacquainted with the hut's layout.

Lupines at the Highland Center. Every June, the hillside in front of the Highland Center is covered with hundreds of lupines.

Lakes of the Clouds Hut sign along the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, just beyond the spur trail to the Cog railway base station.

Ammonoosuc Ravine from the lower part of the trail. The line of rocks visible in the far center of the picture is the upper part of the Ammonoosuc River.

Gem Pool. This emerald pool is at the bottom of a long series of falls and cascades. The trail becomes relentessly steep beyond this point.

Falls along the Ammonoosuc River. About halfway up the steepest section of the trail, a spur path leads to a pair of picturesque falls.

Cascades. Above the steep section, the Ammonoosuc River drops over a series of wide cascades. The trail crosses over them on ledges.

Looking west from one of the Ammonoosuc River ledge crossings.

First glimpse of treeline. After climbing alongside the river for some distance, you finally get your first glimpse of the above treeline world. Here, the Mt Washington summit towers peak over the surrounding landscape.

Lakes of the Clouds Hut from below. On a foggy day, you might not actually see the hut until you're right next to it.

Looking west from a flat spot just below the hut. There are a lot of interesting rock formations up in the mountains.

Inisde Lakes of the Clouds Hut. In this view, the dining area is off to the left, the front desk is at the right, and one of the bunkroom areas is straight ahead through a doorway..

Another view inside Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Here, you get a slightly better look at the front desk and to the other bunkroom area ahead.

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